Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Paul Betit
Special to the Press Herald
AUGUSTA — Dirigo lived up to its top billing Monday night in the Western Class C boys’ basketball tournament, overcoming a stubborn Wiscasset team in a 66-56 quarterfinal win at the Augusta Civic Center.
Sophomore Riley Robinson scored 31 points to lead the top-seeded Cougars (18-1), who advanced to the regional semifinals for the ninth consecutive season. Dirigo will play Thursday night against No. 5 Maranacook (14-5).
Less than a month ago, the Cougars rolled to a 92-52 win in a Mountain Valley Conference game at Wiscasset.
“The time we played them at Wiscasset, they were missing some players and we had our best 3-point shooting night of the season,” Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson said. “We knew we weren’t going to be playing the same team we played. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
“We’ve got nothing to hang our heads about,” Wiscasset Coach Dana Lawrence said. “We went through quite a transition all year long, and just to get to this point was an achievement, and then to step in and play like we did against Dirigo … .”
Lawrence said he had to juggle his lineup for most of the season because of illness and injuries.
“This was about the strongest we’ve been all year,” he said.
The Wolverines (11-9) matched the Cougars point for point during the first quarter and a half.
Dirigo took a 14-13 lead into the second quarter. Dale Peaslee forged a 21-21 tie when he turned a feed from Matt Craig into a basket with 4:40 left in the second quarter, but the rest of the first half belonged to the Cougars.
With Robinson scoring seven points of his 14 first-half points, Dirigo rattled off 13 consecutive points to open up a 34-21 lead with 2:05 left in the half.
The Cougars took a 12-point advantage into the second half, but Chandler Longfellow and Matt Craig nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 43-37 with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter.
That’s as close as the Wolverines got. Dirigo finished the quarter with an 8-0 run, with Robinson scoring six points.
“We’re a really unselfish team,” Robinson said. “We don’t care who scores as long as we score.
“People see my 31 points and they say ‘wow,’ but it’s just my team giving me the ball in good position to score.”
The Cougars led by as many as 19 in the fourth quarter.
“They’re solid all the way around,” Lawrence said. “Defensively, they’re very disciplined. They’re very aggressive going after rebounds and getting into position to rebound, and I think that was the difference in the game.”
Gavin Arsenault scored 11 points for Dirigo, and Dylan Kidder, the Cougars’ only senior, added 10.
Longfellow and Craig each had 15 points for Wiscasset.